Saturday, December 20, 2008


Hi, I am Deepak. I test drive a lot of bikes and I am very passionate about it. I even have a blog about bikes at Although I do not have the same kind of involvement with cars, this time it had been different because I needed to buy one. I was planning to buy a Honda Civic but I could not eliminate Volkswagen Jetta from my list. I did not have a VW showroom in my city so yesterday I went to Bangalore and I spent nearly half a day in the Volkswagen showroom. As a result I have gained a lot of insights on the Volkswagen Jetta and I want to share with you. There are three models in the Jetta, 1. The 1.6 litre petrol engine Trendline model which costs 15 lacs. 1.9 litre deisel engine Trendline model costing 16.4 laks and the 1.9 litre diesel engine Comfortline Auto-transmission model which costs 19.23 laks. There prices are in Karnataka (on-road) and it would be less by around one lakh if purchased in Tamil Nadu because of the less road tax.
The VW Jetta 1.6 Petrol Trendline
This was my model of interest because the price was competitive to Civic and within my range of affordability. This model is the lowest priced model in the stables of Volkswagen India. When I entered the car, I was disappointed by the not so good interiors. Right now I own a Honda City ZX which does a better job in the interiors with beige finish and wooden panels here and there. But the Jetta had only grey interiors (black optional) and no beige option for the Trendline model. The seats were not leather finished and just cloth covered. But however appearances may be deceptive and I decided not to come to any conclusions before testing it on road. The sales guy was confident in me and put me bihing the wheel right away. The first cool thing I noticed about the car is the unique key chain. Unlike any other, the keychain was a rectangular one with buttons for opening the boot, opening the car and open/close all windows and a small metal button when pressed swings out a metal part of the key which is to be inserted. Just like a pocket knife, nice toy to play with!

I came to know that the car is equipped with tilt steering and I immediately checked it out, I adjusted the seats to my height and adjusted the steering to suit me. I pulled it a little to the front and then locked the lever below. I started the engine and decided to take the car for a real test. The engine sound was so silent and it was expected out of a german car for sure. The throttle response, the smoothness of the engine and cute gear were definitely more attractive than the Honda Civic. And the boot door is equipped with hydraulic levers, when I clicked the open boot button in the remote, it opened gracefully in slow motion! And hydraulic levers for the bonnet too!

The big screaming advantage in this German car is the wide tyres and heavy build. The sales guy told me to check out the suspension on rough roads. As he said, the suspension performs the same amount in both single passenger and five passenger mode, which the other cars do not do. And yes, the suspension was great. When travelling at 60+ kmph, you wouldn’t even notice that the roads have so many bumps. Definitely a plus point for Indian driving conditions. Another big plus for me was a short turning radius. When I took a U turn, it was awesome. You can do it fast and you won’t feel like someone is trying to throw you away. That’s because the weight of the car and the great feeling of stability. At this point I knew why all the fancy glossy car magazines gave 5 stars for the handling part.

The acceleration was much better than other 1.6 litre cars in the market. You wouldn’t feel like you are driving at 80kmph unless you look at the speedometer. The wind noise is much less than the other cars and the weight adds more stability since there is no wobbling effect. In a magazine review of Honda Civic and Jetta, the writer mentioned that you can be safer while over-taking in the Civic because of the better engine capacity, but I guess I would feel safer in the Jetta because of the better stability. Civic kerb weight is just 1210kg being 1.8 litre, but Jetta weighs 1343kgs which adds to the stability and solid feeling.

The sales person said ‘Anyone would choose a Honda Civic in the first look because it looks more attractive. Germans are not good at attracting people, but they specialize in technology and safety. You have 6 airbags and Traction control system which is not common in other competing models. You need to get your Honda cars serviced for every 5000kms, but VW cars needs servicing only every 15000kms and that tells you a lot about the Jetta.’

Any sales man would blow the trumpets about their own cars, but this guy had worked for 2.5 years in Honda, so he knows what he is talking about. And I agreed with him. Upon closer inspection, Jetta proves itself to be a better car. As we finished the test drive, I commented that Jetta has ‘passed’ the test with a top grade! My wish was to buy a Honda Civic with beige coloured leather interirors and automatic transmission but I think I will trade some of my earthly desires for a German car with better technology and safety for the same pricing.
The VW Jetta 1.9 TDI (Diesel) Trendline
This model is just as same as the 1.6 petrol trendline but comes with a diesel engine. If you are travelling a lot, then justify for yourself whether spending an additional 1.4 lakhs is worth. Although this model has an engine bigger by 300cc, it performs same as the 1.6 litre petrol. The numbers for the acceleration from 0-100kmph are 12.2 secs for the 1.6L Petrol and 11.9 secs for the 1.9L TDI. So you see, the 1.6L Petrol performs a little better than the 1.9L TDI.
I did not test drive the Comfortline model, but I will write a review and post photos of it in another post.



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